NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WVEC) -- The Peninsula Airport Commission is trying to move past a major misstep.
State Secretary of Transportation Aubrey Layne told commission members Tuesday morning if they reach an agreement with TowneBank and other parties who were part of a loan deal for the failed People Express, the commonwealth would restore funding to Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport.
Secretary Layne says whatever the commission decides the state is going to back them on their decision.
“As long as this is out there I think it'll make it difficult to attract business and get the public to trust us,” Secretary Layne says. “If we reach a settlement even if it's less than the $3.5-million and they believe it's reasonable then we will release those dollars.”
The airport lost funding after the commission used more than $3-million in state money to guarantee a private loan for People Express Airlines, which eventually went under.
Layne previously called it an unauthorized use of the transportation trust fund.
“Bottom line, the money was not used to benefit the public,” Secretary Layne says.
The commission already presented a settlement option to bank officials. Commission Chairman George Wallace says the commission has not heard back from the bank.
“We made a definitive offer to them, but I don't want to publicly announce the amount now,” Wallace says. “I think when we get this matter concluded we'll get the public trust.”
Layne says perceived conflicts between the bank and attorneys has brought pending litigation from both sides.
He says the commission’s members are showing they’re serious about correcting the costly mistake. He believes the commission is moving in the right direction.
“I think there's enough blame to go around, so let's make the best, reasonable settlement and get this behind us,” Layne says.
The next meeting is next Tuesday, November 28th. The meeting is to discuss a response from TowneBank on the Commission's initial demand, which was previously sent.